Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced plans to urge lawmakers to decriminalize the public possession of small amounts of marijuana in New York.
Private possession of marijuana is currently a violation and Cuomo said this change would bring consistency and fairness to the law.
Carrying less than 25 grams of marijuana in public would become a violation punishable by a maximum fine of $100 rather than a class B misdemeanor. Smoking and selling the drug in public would remain a crime.
The governor said that more than 60 percent of the people arrested for possession of marijuana were young and 94 percent were minorities.
“The effect of a criminal conviction of a young person can alter the trajectory of their entire life,” Cuomo said at the press conference in Albany.
It was also largely a city issue with 94 percent of the arrests coming within the five boroughs.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a statement today in support of changing the law.
Last year, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued a directive to his officers to issue violations, rather than misdemeanors, for small amounts of marijuana that come into open view during a search.
“The governor’s proposal today is consistent with the commissioner’s directive, and strikes the right balance by ensuring that the NYPD will continue to have the tools it needs to maintain public safety — including making arrests for selling or smoking marijuana,” Bloomberg said.